One of the nice things about old-school wired headphones is that they don’t have batteries that need charging. Wireless headphones, on the other hand (or head, I guess), have a nasty habit of not working at all once they run out of juice — which can be annoying if you’re out and about and don’t have time to stop and plug in your cables.

One solution is wireless charging — Apple’s AirPods and most other “true wireless” earbuds come with a charging case that lets you refuel on the go.

JBL has a different solution — solar power. The company says its JBL Reflect Eternal wireless headphones are self-charging, thanks to an integrated solar charger that draws power from both indoor and outdoor light sources.

At this point, the headphones are still in the prototype stage — rather than just mass producing and selling this new product, JBL is hedging its bets a bit with a crowdfunding campaign.

The company says the wireless headphones are expected to ship sometime around October, 2020 and they’ll sell for $165. But folks who back the JBL Reflect Eternal Indiegogo campaign can score deep discounts.

JBL says the “self-charging” comes courtesy of Exeger’s Powerfoyle technology which turns light into power, whether it’s light from the sun or artificial light sources. Of course, the more time you spend in bright light, the more charge you’ll probably get, but JBL says a fully charged 700 mAh battery should provide up to 24 hours of run time.

If your battery does run down faster than it can recharge on its own, JBL says you can still plug in the headphones to get 2 hours of battery life from a 15 minute charge.

The headphones come in red or green, have a microphone for phone calls or voice assistant software, and a touch-sensitive side for activating Google Assistant or Alexa with a tap.

The JBL Reflect Eternal headphones support Bluetooth 5.0, have an IPX4 rating for water resistance.

press release

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7 replies on “JBL’s solar-powered Reflect Eternal wireless headphones may never need to be plugged in (crowdfunding)”

  1. After buying a kinetic wrist watch (no battery), and seeing that the maintenance was quite a bit more than what is required for a simple battery powered watch… I have become wary of devices that are “just supposed to work”.
    On a rainy day where there is less ambient light, I don’t want to find a headset with low battery. I would rather just plug it in all the time and know that it is ready to be used.

    1. You could click the link in the article. It’s exactly the sort of marketing site you’d expect though.

      1. A review of the brand name pulls up nearly no information. It’s probably a polycrystalline solar cell optimized for indoor lighting, with a charge harvester that steps up voltage to a useful level somewhat efficiently, even if intermittently.

        1. I can’t open the link at work. I was thinking amorphous panel for the flexibility. The trouble is, they are not very efficient. 700 mAh is not a very large battery. I can’t imagine it would actually power the headphones for 24 hours as they say. Maybe that is standby time? What type of battery do they use? NMC? only good for about 1,000 charges. If you leave the headphones in the light all the time to keep them ready for use you could get less than 3 years before the battery is done. I want to believe in this product but I am not making any bets.

  2. Now this is the kind of thing I’d love to see in electronic hearing protection.

    1. I could see this might work for that purpose, because it would require less energy in many/most situations. For headphone use I’m very skeptical.

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